Dispatches from the Digital Revolution
I do not presume to know what goes on in the bizarre and brilliant mind of Jeff Bezos. Clearly, given Amazon’s profitability, the man knows what he’s doing.
But a recent, confusing move on the Kindle Fire front has ignited some confusion and customer ire.
The new Fire is not a closed system; it allows third-party apps, which is expected these days. Strangely, however, the Fire does not allow Google Apps that require the user to log in, despite the popularity of these services.
That means no Google +, no Google Docs, and most significantly, no Gmail.
This seems like an annoying and odd omission, especially because the Fire is based on Google’s operating system. Even Apple, notorious for its closed-platform model, allows side-loading of things not available in its own store, and hasn’t encountered this issue.
I could understand Amazon’s rejecting apps from direct competitors, but that’s not what’s going on here. Nook apps, presumably the biggest rival to Amazon, are available with minimal finagling, and several competing services are available directly through Amazon’s app store.
Some forum-browsing led me to a few strategies (okay, hacks) for getting around this Google Apps issue, but many created problems of their own with Amazon’s video services, and all voided software licensing agreements and warranties. This work-around I believe would prove too inconvenient or intimidating for many customers. Furthermore, someone who plunked down $200 for a tablet wants a device that “just works.”
So what gives, Amazon?
Is this just a bug that can be worked out through some patch or update? Are we looking at a cute marketing strategy for the Fire 2, “now with Gmail”? Enlighten us, Mr. Bezos!